'Mean Girls' Cast Power Rankings: Then and Now

How did the stars of Mean Girls stack up against each other upon the film's release in 2004? A good bit differently than they do today, certainly.

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Ten years ago today, Mean Girls brought together the writing talent of Tina Fey, the teen stardom of Lindsay Lohan, and violin prodigy from Party of Five and created something truly, and we don't throw this word around lightly, fetch. The internet positively pink with Mean Girls retrospectives today, so we figured it was a good time to rank the cast members according to their levels of fame in the direct aftermath of Mean Girls, as well as where they rank now. The Mean Girls cast launched more than a few careers, and ten years in the lifespan of a young Hollywood actress can be quite unpredictable. (For the record: Trang Pak, Kevin Gnapoor, and Glenn Coco were deemed too good to be ranked on this list.)

Mean Girls Power Rankings: 2004

1. Lindsay Lohan (as Cady Heron)

Mean Girls came along just as Lindsay Lohan's career as the country's preeminent teen star was cresting. She was coming off of two high-profile releases — the hit Freaky Friday remake and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, which wasn't so much a hit but which did showcase her star power. The success of Mean Girls put her over the top. She'd host her first Saturday Night Live days later, the MTV Movie Awards that June, and her debut album came out that December. She was on top of the world! Who could have ever expected that she'd fall victim to the same reward-punishment cycle that we inflict upon all young actresses, only exacerbated to tragic extremes due to (probably) her monumentally horrid parents??

2. Rachel McAdams (as Regina George)

Previous to Mean Girls, McAdams had been best known to Canadians for the TV series Slings and Arrows and to idiots for the Rob Schneider body-swapping comedy The Hot Chick. That's how good a role Regina George was. It made people entirely forget about The Hot Chick.

3. Lacey Chabert (as Gretchen Weiners)

It's funny to think now, but besides Lindsay Lohan, the only one of the Mean Girls tens who had any name recognition at all was Chabert, who had starred in the Fox family drama Party of Five for several seasons. 2004 was a big year for Party of Five alums. Matthew Fox scored the lead on Lost, of course, and Scott Wolf joined the cast of Everwood for a successful multi-season run. Jennifer Love Hewitt was still a year away from The Ghost Whisperer, but at least she had her biggest box-office success with Garfield. But perhaps we digress.

4. Tina Fey (as Ms. Norbury)

This was still a pre-30 Rock Tina Fey, but she'd been holding down the Weekend Update desk on Saturday Night Live for several years at this point, and more than anyone else, it was Fey's presence that signaled that Mean Girls could be more than just a dumb teen comedy.

5. Jonathan Bennett (as Aaron Samuels)

Like Rachel McAdams, Jonathan Bennett was a virtual unknown (though he did manage to succeed young Jesse McCartney as JR Chandler on All My Children) until Mean Girls gave him a role that perfectly suited him. Unfortunately, that's where the similarities between him and McAdams end. Didn't it seem like Mean Girls was all set to launch him into actual stardom?

6. Lizzy Caplan (as Janis Ian)

Freaks and Geeks fans might have recognized Janis as the girl who played Jason Segel's disco-dancing ladyfriend, but it's doubtful anyone else did.

7. Amy Poehler (as Mrs. George) 

Amy was a few years into her SNL run, at this stage most known for characters like incredibly confident, one-legged Amber and Kaitlin, who was always pestering her stepdad Rick.

8. Tim Meadows (as Mr. Duvall)

Meadows had an odd reputation at this point as an extremely long-running SNL cast member whose longevity began to feel like an indictment against him.

9. Amanda Seyfried (as Karen Smith)

Seyfried, too, had put in some time on All My Children. Otherwise, she was a total unknown.

10. Daniel Franzese (as Damian)

New meat, comin' through!

Mean Girls Power Rankings: 2014

1. Amy Poehler

I don't think there's any question that Poehler is on top of the world at the moment. Even with Parks and Recreation starting to slip as it comes down the home stretch, Poehler is coming off of two excellent Golden Globes hosting gigs, she's flexing her producing arm (Broad City!), and she's one of the more purely likeable personalities in Hollywood.

2. Tina Fey

Almost everything that Poehler has going for her, Fey has going for her too. Only Fey has a movie career that could use a little sprucing up (Admission was a disappointing miss). This ranking could change once the two TV projects Fey has a hand in, plus the ensemble film This Is Where I Leave You, make it to audiences.

3. Amanda Seyfried

Seyfried made some very smart career choices in the years following Mean Girls. Crucial supporting roles on good TV shows (Veronica MarsBig Love) and ensemble indies like Alpha Dog and Nine Lives helped establish a solid reputation as an actress with some range. By the time Mamma Mia! came along in 2008, she was ready for a try-out as a mainstream lead. The results haven't been universally excellent, but she's had enough commercial success (Dear JohnLes Miserables) to give her room to make movies like last year's Lovelace, a not-great movie that she nonetheless was quite excellent in. She's currently got eleven film projects in some stage of development, as listed on IMDb.

4. Lizzy Caplan 

For a good long while there, Lizzy Caplan was the queen of cancelled TV series. The WB's Related and CBS's The Class were both solid little shows that never saw a second season; Party Down was a GREAT series that ended after two seasons on Starz. All three series, plus a featured guest run on True Blood, were stepping stones, enhancing Caplan's reputation as an in-demand TV actress on the rise. Masters of Sex appears to have paid off Caplan's TV potential, though she's also been ace in indie comedies like Save the Date and Bachelorette.

5. Rachel McAdams

When McAdams followed up Mean Girls with the smash romance The Notebook, it seemed impossible to imagine that she wouldn't top a list of Mean Girls alums ten years later. But her career has been a frustrating series of near-misses and puzzling choices. Yes, she was great in The Family Stone and Red Eye and even the recent Brian DePalma disasterpiece Passion. But why so many thankless roles playing, essentially, The Girl, in movies like Sherlock Holmes and Wedding Crashers? Nobody really turns down the chance to work with Woody Allen, but her character in Midnight in Paris was a dead-end nightmare. The Time Traveler's Wife and Morning Glory were big misses when it came to establishing her as a romantic lead. She's still getting the parts, but they all seem to let her down to some degree (About Time was a very good movie that nonetheless didn't much care about her character). It's tough not to want to assume crash positions for this Cameron Crowe movie she's making next.

6. Diego Klattenhoff (as Shane Oman)

It's tough to remember Shane Oman for anything but getting caught in his underwear in the projection room, but Klattenhoff would resurface years later as huevos-rancheros gourmand Mike on Homeland and on the current hit The Blacklist. This is enough to rank him ahead of Lindsay Lohan.

7. Lindsay Lohan

If The Canyons proved anything, it was that Lindsay Lohan still has charisma and star power, no matter how much scandal or how many substances attempt to drown it out.

8. Daniel Franzese

He never really capitalized on Mean Girls, but his recently-published coming-out post on Indiewire puts him a notch above ...

9/10. Lacey Chabert / Jonathan Bennett

Somewhere, on some plane of existence, Gretchen Weiners and Aaron Samuels met after college and realized what they should have seen in each other long ago. Together, they were never seen in another Hollywood film again.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.